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tv   Talk to Al Jazeera  Al Jazeera  August 24, 2014 3:00pm-3:31pm EDT

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>> i understand kids learn in different ways. lilly is the head of 3 million educators, a supporter of teacher tenure and an out spoken critic of standardized testing? >> what we are seeing now is absurd. what if is, is looking at this whole human child and saying, all i have to know about this kid is a reading and a math cut score. did you hit the score, or didn't you? she is taking over the nation's largest labor union at a time
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when a boarder crisis and refugee children will affect school enrollment. >> i look at these families who came here, you believe for very desperate reasons and i never judge them. i will never judge them. >> garcia recently married a mexican citizen who is waiting in mexico tore allowed to move her. >> this has been very frustrating. >> she is a parent of children who have had difficulty with the school and the law. >> my two songs were involved in problems in high school. >> i spoke to lily garcia as she prepared to officially become president of the national education association. >> this is a complied diementd to be a union leader for this in particular. they are given some of the heaviest lifting to do in our shared life.
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and yet blamed when it doesn't work. you have to both rep improve but defend as well. are you on defense from day one? >> of tyou have to just describ the situation, is that you are absolutely immersed in making something better. you want something different, but at the same time, anything that fails, you know that there are people for whatever reason who are going to say, you know, if we had better teachers, everything would be fine. if we had better teachers, the roof wouldn't leak. if we had better teachers, the hungry. i mean it doesn't matter that it doesn't make sense. it's an easy answer for somebody to grasp at, you know. they don't want to do anything that might cost money. they don't want to do anything that acknowledges that kids come to us with such different needs and such different talents and skills and gifts. and that if you are a professional teacher, your job
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is to develop wherever those kids come to you and develop to some higher level where they get to see the possibilities of their lives. >> recently the teachers' unions defending the notion of tenure were hand add big defeat in the california california court. and as interesting as that is, what's more interesting is who was lined up on the side of the young school girl who was the named petitioner, arnie duncan, speaks for the obama administration. if you believe what what you read. here is the secretary of education saying taking down teacher tenure in california,
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the largest single state administered system in the country, of course, because california is the largest state, that's a good thing. >> tenure is making sure a good teacher cannot be fired. tenure is due process. most states like mine in utah, after a probationary period, met expectations and had good evaluations, when you get to that level that says now you have tenure, it simply means if you are going to be fired, you get two things. you get to know why you are being fired. and if you believe you are being fired unfairly you get a chance to did he have phone called yourself in front of a hearing officer. every state has different time lines or has two things play out. and every state should always be looking at: are those time lines
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fair? are you protecting someone who is in competent whi? do you have weigh that. >> it's interesting that you say that the system that they had in california was there to protect good teachers from loses their jobs because the way the public oven sees it is that these systems protect bad teachers by making it really hard to fire them. >> in utah, it doesn't take years. it takes months. if you have someone who truly is not doing their job or can't do their job, there are var clear quickly. >> should always be the case. process. most teachers are not going to get in trouble. they just want what they need to do their jobs. there is this silence. there is
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this tsilence that's deafening, when you ask folks who seem to go after these little witch hunts of, you know, teacher? >> kind of an easy out, i think, for a lot of people. then they don't have to talk about the fact that i had 395th graders in the same classroom because that's going to cost some money to hire enough teachers to actually lower class size, to get me the technology that i need to averrable college pre-school this toxic testing sucking the heart and soul out of what it means to teach and learn, all of these things that you are saying, what about this? teacher. >> one of the hottest ideas in american education right now is that if a teacher is effective,
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i should be able to test his or her children and their effectiveness will show because the kids know math, science, english. does the nea support performance-based testing? >> absolutely not. it makes no sense whatsoever. i mean it makes not so ever but on any study. it shows wild fluctuations of things like test ask the courts. >> that's what it usually koucomes down when someone says merit pay. how would you judge, you know, ray against lilly, these two teachers? we would look at their kids' standardized tests. >> why wouldn't we? if you don't know how to do division after three months of learning division, wouldn't i know that teacher a is better than teacher b? >> let's take that.
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>> that's what its based on. if this child needs to know her times tables and you practiced your times tables and here is a class of, again, 39 kids because that was my favorite year. if this many kids learned it and these didn't, we should be able to say you are this good of a teacher, or bad on the standardized test score because that's the only way we can know how kids are doing? no. if you've ever been in a room with human type children whether you are the parent or the teach her or the grandmother or grandfather, you understand skids learn in very different ways. but what we are -- what we are seeing now is absurd. what wiit is, is, looking at th whole human child and saying all i have to know about this kid is
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did you hit the cut score or didn't you? wlooshings this high schoolteacher gets to graduate, whether your teacher should be fired or given a big bonus. it has been a clupting influence in what it means to teach and what it means to learn to judge that whole child by a cut score on two standardsized tests that you give in the spring. >> if cumulatively a class of 30 people, which is very common, is in one place in september and a indifferent place in june, what does it tell you? >> very little if all you are looking at is the cut score on the standardized test on two subject areas. and i will tell you the studies show that it is wildly
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unreliable mean can i can give the very same teacher, the very same teacher with this there is a class next year, this lcas class 2 years from now and depending upon the students, not the teacher, depending upon the students in that class, the test scores will fluctuate wildly sometimes there is something drammaati dramatic, kids who are not going to do well on an english test. there are tiles in my experience and i think of appropriately every teacher when you had the class from heaven and you had the class that wasn't from heaven, the class where you had two kids that were not a good combination in that class. sometimes, you have the district that picks a different test to
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give. it's insane. in florida, the state law encouraged by the department of education decided every teacher needed to have a number that reflected test scores of some sort next to every teacher's name. well, the problem is, is not every subject area is tested and not every grade level is tested. if you are a second grade teacher in orlando and they wait to third 2k3wr5id but says i have to put a test score number, they said, okay, here is a k-2 schoolacts primary school. they had no standardized testing for that
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entire school so they picked another school, the third graders, and put those scores and put them next to the teacher's name. kids. is not responsible for anything. it's just that important that we have a number. it's absurd to ridiculous and how in the world does anybody support something like that? >> if we go to this testing-based performance assessment, will you choose elmo instead of san antonio, scars detail instead of the south bronx almost by a rigid law of averages, better-off kids are going to do better? you are going look better, you will get your raise and put together a career as a temporary instead of taking on some of the education? >> let me tell teaching."
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i get excited about seeing kids about learning. the more they do, the more i want to do for them. you taught in salt lake city, with moms and dads who worked for modest pay checks. i wanted something different after awhile. i wanted a different challenge. after i had been teacher of the year. and asked to have the assignment at the homeless shelter school in salt lake city. kids. >> would every teacher make that request if their future job security and pay were based on whether or not they pulled those kids up? >> that was preno child left behind for me yu have to face what you just described. for me, it was where am i needed? where do i want to really make a difference? and that was all i looked at when i asked to go to the shelter
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school skids. today, it's a very different situation. it is more what you just described. people are being asked to make incredibly tough choices about where they want to put their talents. when you start saying, we may actually be threatening your livelihood if you choose to teach the most challenged kids. a lot of folks believe there is a simple, you know, a good teacher, kids always have good test scores. bad teacher, the kids will have bad test scores. they really believe that. it's wrong but they really believe it in their hearts. they are going to say if you are a good enough teacher move over here with the hover parents where, you know, no kid has ever gone hungry that night where they have got technology their homes and educated families that help guide them through, here is what you should doing and taking
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and how to do your homework because they had someone guide them through. they are saying, you know, if we just took all of those teachers and put them in the schools with the least prepared kids, with the kids who have the greatest challenge, they will be able to do the very same. will they? same? >> you are watching "talk to al jazeera." her sons have struggled with drugs, and her new husband can't live in the united states. how her personal struggles will help, how they inform her in her new job. stay with us.
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? >> you are watching "talk to al jazeera." i am ray swashes speeching with lily garcia. she is a teacher and will lead the national education association. let's talk about what's out
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there when a teacher stands up in front of a class you have kids whose parents don't spe speakemption english t kids who are out of status with the immigration services, some who have been in lots of school because of the unsettled nature of their home life, their parents' economic problems post high recession. all of this must make the job of a teacher not just a little more complicated. >> how can i say this? yes, but no. yes, it's complicated in having to deal with situations where kids come to us with greater and greater and greater needs. but, no, in what they need from us. really they need someone to
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carry about them. they need someone to care about the whole happy chide. and folks who want to bottom line it, make it like a corporation, make it like a fact factory, they really don't understand what we do. they think, you know, here is a script. read the script. here is how you can practice for the test. we will do some test prepare you hit your number and then we move on. >> that's not what made me the teacher of the year. >> that's not what gets someone by teaching. they aren't looking for an effective factory technician in addition to get test points up. they want someone to notice when their kid is having a bad day. i don't care if that's the richest or the poorest kid. they need the caring convicted who can look them in the eye and say, i believe in you. i see something special in you. >> that's why i cared about an overcrowded class,
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time. under the best of circumstances, i travel a lot. every month, i get to be with my husband, with my new family. a l a lot of families don't have that, that wherewithal. act can't plunk down several thousand dollars for lawyers to fill out forms. so, i understand going back home and getting in line. it's almost like saying, this will never happen. so, i look at these families who came here usually for desperate reasons and i never judge them. i will never judge them. it's still my job as an educator to welcome, to accept that child and accept that family as my partner in learning and teaching. those schools have to be a haven. they have to be that center of safety
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for those students. >> does the nea have a position? >> i was a surrogate speaker for the obama administration on the dream act, on what immigrant children need no matter what their status in terms of their documents. i am not an expert on comprehensive immigration reform, but i know that we need three things: i know we have to make sure families aren't separated. we need to make sure kids aren't hurt. and we need to make sure that whatever immigration reform, whatever form that takes, it has to lead to citizenship, that says this country is yours. it will do none of us any good to have an underclass of people who can never be citizens living amongst us.
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we have to have someplace where these people who want something better for their children that they can call this place that they love their home. >> this is "talk to al jazeera." more in a minute. >> hundreds of days in detention. >> al jazeera rejects all the charges and demands immediate release. >> thousands calling for their freedom. >> it's a clear violation of their human rights. >> we have strongly urged the government to release those journalists. >> journalism is not a crime.
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i am ray suarez. my guest is lily garcia. another challenge in american classrooms, substance abuse, kids at risk, continuing kids on track when they are involved in the criminal justice system. this isn't an obvious striction to you either. >> my two songs were involved in problems in high school and continuing on to all kind of interesting things in their lives, both of them doing very well today, but this way in trouble. i was lucky to have caring teachers and a school system that said, let's help get your kids some, you know, what they need and
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me as a parent. i look now at what's happened in schools and the support staff is diminishing, counsellors, school psychologists, people who were there to help when they noticed there was something more than you don't want to do your homework. you could reach out to colleagues. sometimes a school nurse the might be a mental health issue. hose are the kind of things where we have laid people off in a bad economy. we haven't called those folks back. they have turned to the teacher and said you take care of that all by yourself. >> we have instituted zero to rents where kids who get in
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trouble are expelled or suspended. a lot of times, that ends their education where it's pretty critical to keep them school-involved if they are ever going to finish a credential. >> there are some dang ruz situations, and you can't just let that continue. about whatever happens, if you just tell that child goodbye at the door, you are expelled and you don't have someplace for them to go, some help for them to get, then what have you done to the rest of that community? you haven't solved any problems. again, all of those simple answers. well, you just get rid of those children. they don't disappear. so -- >> what happens to those kids? >> alternative programs are absolutely essential. i actually went to a fabulous program in iowa, of all places. this isn't just inner city. this is
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nationwide. this young man told me i needed to learn some new songs all of the ones i knew were from 1972. i said you dropped out of your old school. they talked you into coming here. tell me what makes this different. and he stopped and thought and he said, they care about me here. it goes about what i was saying at the beginning of this program. a caring teacher. he felt that and he stayed in school and he said, i am going to graduate. and it wasn't -- you couldn't judge what that teacher did by looking at husband cut score. >> that's not what made his teacher a good teacher. >> well, the bell is going to ring soon. so before it does, i just want you,
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as the new leader of america's largest education, we won't fix american education unless we...? >> unless we empower the men and women who know the names of the boys and girls they serve. put authority and power to do the right thing to care for the whole child in the hands of the people in that school. >> lily garcia, great to have you on "talk to al jazeera ". >> it's fabulous. thank you, ray. >> al jazeera america presents... labor day marathons >> our government is allowing an invasion >> our most acclaimed series.... back to back to back... toughest place... >> i call that a lot of hard work for next to nothing >> the system... >> a justice system run by human beings can run off the rails >> and borderland...
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>> a lot aof people haven't got a clue what goes on near the border >> al jazeera america presents labor day marathons >> this is not over... >> a changing community, a new majority, and a power structure still in the hands of an old guard. it's "inside story." >> hello, i'm ray suarez